Highlighting the critical importance of improving student success in Americaâ€™s community colleges, the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program recently named Cape Fear Community College as one of the nationâ€™s top 150 community colleges eligible to compete for the 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence and $1 million dollars in prize funds.
Awarded every two years, the Aspen Prize is the nationâ€™s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among Americaâ€™s community colleges and recognizes institutions for exceptional student outcomes in four areas: student learning, certificate and degree completion, employment and earnings, and high levels of access and success for minority and low-income students.CFCC President Dr. Ted Spring stated that he was excited to hear about that the college was eligible to compete for the award.
“It is very encouraging to see that the dedication and hard work of our faculty and staff is being recognized at the national level by experts in higher education,” Spring said.
“The Aspen Prize recognizes many of the primary goals that are an essential part of the ongoing mission of CFCC. We are continually working to improve our services so that each student can reach their educational goal, whether it is to transfer to a four-year institution or find employment in their field of study,” Spring said.
CFCC was selected from a pool of over 1,000 colleges throughout the country following an assessment of institutional performance, improvement, and equity on student retention and completion measures.Â A full list of the 150 qualifying community colleges is available atÂ www.AspenPrize.org. Prize winners will be announced in early 2015.
Nearly half of Americaâ€™s college students attend a community college, with more than sevenÂ million students â€“ youth and adult learners â€“ working towards certificates and degrees in these institutions across the country.â€œCommunity colleges have tremendous power to change lives, and their success will increasingly define our nationâ€™s economic strength and the potential for social mobility for every Americanâ€ said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program.
â€œThis competition is designed to spotlight the excellent work being done in the most effective community colleges, those that best help students obtain meaningful, high-quality education and training for competitive-wage jobs after college. We hope it will raise the bar and provide a road map for community colleges nationwide,â€ Wyner stated.
CFCC and 149 other community colleges announced on Jan. 23 were selected using data on student outcomes. The formula used to select the colleges was devised by expert analysts at the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems in consultation with an expert advisory committee convened by the Aspen Institute. The data focus on student retention and completion.
CFCC has been invited to submit an application containing detailed data on degree/certificate completion (including progress and transfer rates), labor market outcomes (employment and earnings), and student learning outcomes. Ten finalists will be named in the fall of 2014. The Aspen Institute will then conduct site visits to each of the finalists and collect additional quantitative data, including employment and earnings data from states and transfer data from the National Student Clearinghouse. A distinguished Prize Jury will select a grand prize winner and a few finalists with distinction in early 2015.
The Aspen Prize is funded by the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Joyce Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Lumina Foundation.The Aspen College Excellence Program aims to identify and replicate practices and policies that significantly improve college student outcomes. Â Through the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the New College Leadership Project and other initiatives, the College Excellence Program works to improve collegesâ€™ and policy-makersâ€™ understanding of what is needed to teach and graduate post-secondary students, especially the growing population of low-income and minority students on American campuses. For more information, visitÂ http://www.aspeninstitute.org/cep.
The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visitÂ www.aspeninstitute.org.